FUNCTIONAL ART

BY MEREDITH DIERS | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

A Milo Baughman pink, red and orange sunset-printed sofa sat in the warehouse-looking showroom at circa20c. In pristine condition, its unique and eyecatching design owned the room.

“It is going to West Hollywood. We think Megan Ellison bought it,” says Jean Nelson, the owner of circa20c, as she walks up to the piece. “Kylie Jenner has also bought a few things.”

Nelson is quietly making a name for herself as a “picker” of designer furniture for celebrity clients as well as designers and individuals. She prides herself on displaying and selling pieces that hold great value and are very desirable.

A pair of revamped, deepsea blue Vladimir Kagan Lucite armchairs with small brass detail dominates circa20c’s one show window. The chairs are unique showstoppers that catch everyone’s eye. Nelson reupholstered the chairs upon acquiring them, increasing the furniture’s value and attraction.

After a long career in business finance, Nelson opened Give and Take, which sold a variety of vintage and designer label products. “I’ve always had a passion for great art and design. I was at the point in my career where I still had energy, so I decided now’s the time,” she says.

Four years in the home furnishing business gave Nelson the experience and confidence to narrow her focus to rare furniture pieces created by important mid-century modern and contemporary designers. Along with editing her merchandise, Nelson renamed her store circa20c “to be more indicative of the pieces that can be found in the shop,” she says.

Located in Dallas’ Design District, circa20c sells a variety of mid-century modern furniture, statement pieces that add great flair to any room. The showroom holds a number of sitting and dining room setups that include lamps and hung artwork, along with a variety of chair sets along the back wall.

“My items are like buying a functional piece of art,” says Nelson.

While the designers that are currently in the showroom include Milo Baughman, Vladimir Kagan and Eero Saarinen, along with many others, the merchandise constantly changes and depends strictly on “what’s out there and what I come across,” says Nelson.

She personally stocks the store with estate sale, consignment and client-sold specialty furniture and art from across the United States, including New York, Florida and Los Angeles.

“I love the hunt,” says Nelson. “I get to look at and acquire beautiful things.”

Recently, she bought a well-loved pair of Eero Saarinen womb chairs. Upon purchase, Nelson knew the fabric and chrome legs would need to be updated. The upholstery was changed from a drab umber to a bright fuchsia wool fabric from Knoll.

In addition to having an eye for unique and valuable furniture, Nelson also knows which pieces will best sell reupholstered or updated. “Items that are refinished and restored are generally more desirable for customers, so we take on the project work,” she says.

Prices for these vintage items can be high but Nelson tells her clients to concentrate on the value of each item, both monetary and aesthetic. Most pieces are designer items that, according to Nelson, will continue to appreciate over time.

Both direct consumers and interior designers have enlisted Nelson for her consultation in finding and refurbishing specific consignment home goods. “When you’re in this business— you always have projects,” says Nelson.

circa20c is the perfect place to check out true mid-century modern designer furniture. “You can’t find pieces like these, many just aren’t made anymore,” says Nelson.

Meredith Diers is a freelance writer and editor. Contact her at meredith .diers@gmail.com.